Clan Donald is ane o the lairgest Scots clans. There are numerous brainches tae the clan. Several o these hae chiefs recognised bi the Lord Lyon King of Arms; these are: Clan Macdonald o Sleat, Clan Macdonald o Clanranald, Clan MacDonell o Glengarry, Clan MacDonald o Keppoch, an Clan MacAlister. Notable brainches without chiefs so-recognised ar: the MacDonalds o Dunnyveg, MacDonalds o Lochalsh, the MacDonalds o Glencoe, an the MacDonalds o Ardnamurchan. The MacDonnells o Antrim dae no belang tae the Scots associations an hae a chief offeecially recognised in Ireland.
Table o contents
The Norse-Gaelic Clan Donald traces its descent frae Dòmhnall Mac Raghnuill (d. circa 1250), whose faither Reginald or Ranald wis styled "Keeng o the Isles" an "Laird o Argyll an Kintyre". Ranald's faither, Somerled wis styled "Keeng o the Hebrides", an wis killed campaignin against Malcolm IV o Scotland at the Battle o Renfrew in 1164. Clan Donald shares a descent frae Somerled wi Clan MacDougall, who trace their lineage frae his elder son, Dugall mac Somhairle. Their dynasties are thegither commonly referred tae as the Clann Somhairle. Furthermair they are descendit maternally frae baith the infamous House o Ivar an the Earls o Orkney, through Somerled's wife Ragnhildis Ólafsdóttir, dochter o Olaf I Godredsson, Keeng o Mann an the Isles an Ingeborg Haakonsdottir dochter o Haakon Paulsson, Earl o Orkney. It is possible that Somerled wis a male line descendant o Echmarcach mac Ragnaill an Ivar o Waterford.
Gaelic tradition gave Somerled a Celtic descent in the male line, as the medieval Seanachies traced his lineage through a lang line o ancestors back tae Colla Uais an Conn o the Hunder Battles. Thus Clan Donald claimed tae be baith Clann Cholla an Siol Chuinn (Childer o Colla an Seed o Conn). Possibly the auldest piece o poetry attributit tae the MacDonalds is a brosnachadh (an incitement tae battle) which wis said tae hae been written in 1411, on the day o the Battle o Harlaw. The first lines o the poem begin "A Chlanna Cuinn cuimhnichibh / Cruas an àm na h-iorghaile," (Ye children of Conn remember hardihood in the time of battle). A later poem made tae John o Islay (1434–1503), last o the MacDonald Lords o the Isles, proclaims "Ceannas Ghàidheal do Chlainn Cholla, còir fhògradh," (The Heidship o the Gael tae the family o Colla, it is richt tae proclaim it), givin MacDonald's genealogy back tae Colla Uais.
Housomeivver a recent DNA study haes shown that Somerled mey hae been o Norse descent in his male line. Bi testin the Y-DNA o males bearin the surnames MacDonald, MacDougall, MacAlister, an their variants it wis foond that a substantial proportion o men testit shared the same Y-DNA an a direct paternal ancestor. This distinct Y-chromosome R1a1 haplotype foond in Scotland haes been regardit as aften showin Norse descent in the Breetish Isles. Accordin tae the Clan Donald USA DNA Project aboot 22% o testit participants hae this signature, but despite the sensational claims it remains far frae proven that Somerled hissel wis o paternal Norse ancestry. A non-paternity event remains a possible cause.
The MacDonalds haed aaways supportit Norawa. Housomeivver, this alliance brak when the Norsemen wur defeatit at the Battle o Lairgs in 1263 bi Scots forces. Norawa's Keeng Haakon wis defeatit an his fleet wis wrecked bi the skilled manoeuvres o Keeng Alexander III o Scotland and the Clan MacDougall. Three years later, the Norsemen submittit their last islands tae the Scots croun. Aonghas Mòr, the son o Dòmhnall, then made peace wi Keeng Alexander III o Scotland.
Wars o Scots Unthirldom
The MacDonalds fought wi Robert the Bruce at the Battle o Bannockburn in 1314. It wis Donald's great grandson, Angus Og o Islay who wis the 6t Laird o the Isles who sheltered Keeng Robert the Bruce. Angus led a sma baund o Islesmen at the Battle o Bannockburn. In recognition o Clan Donalds support King Robert the Bruce proclaimed that Clan Donald wad aaways occupy the honored position on the richt wing o the Scots airmy.
First Laird o the Isles
The clan takes its name 'Donald' frae the name o the 1st Laird o the Isles who wis the grandson o Keeng Somerled who lived till 1269. Donald's son wis the oreeginal 'Mac' which means 'son o'. It was Donald's great grandson, Angus Og who wis the 6t Laird o the Isles who sheltered Keeng Robert the Bruce. In recognition o Clan Donalds support Keeng Robert the Bruce proclaimed that Clan Donald wad aaways occupy the honored position on the richt wing o the Scots airmy.
Earldom o Ross
The title an territory o the Earl o Ross haed oreeginally been held bi the Chief o Clan Ross. Housomeivver Angas Og's grandson, Dòmhnall o Islay, Laird o the Isles marrit the first female heiress o the Earl o Ross. He later successfully claimed the position o Earl o Ross through marriage. This wis secured bi the Battle o Harlaw on 24 Julie 1411 whaur maist o the hieland clans supportit Donald in preventin the Duke o Albany an his airmy o Scots Lawlanders frae claimin the position for hissel. Housomeivver bi 1415 the Earldom o Ross wis lost as Murdoch Stewart, Duke o Albany haed seized Dingwall Castle an Easter Ross. Dòmhnall prepared for war an proclaimed hissel "Lord o Ross". Although Albany appointit his awn son John Stewart, 2nt Earl o Buchan as the new Earl o Ross. Housomeivver, later the MacDonald chiefs wad again become the Earls o Ross, firstly Alexander o Islay, Earl o Ross an then his son John o Islay, Earl o Ross who surrendered the earldom in 1476 tae James Stewart, Duke o Ross.
- Battle o Dingwall, 1411, The Clan Mackay wur defeatit bi Clan Donald. They later joined forces an fought at the Battle o Harlaw.
- Battle o Split Allegiances, 1429, This conflict wis atween forces led bi Alexander MacDonald o Islay, Earl o Ross, 3rd Laird o the Isles an the Ryalist airmy o Keeng James I, Keeng o Scots.
- Battle o Inverlochy (1431), While chief Alexander MacDonald of Islay, Earl of Ross was imprisoned by King James I, the Clan MacDonald were led by Donald Balloch, the nephew of Alexander. The MacDonalds were victorious in defeating the Earl of Mar's army.
- Battle of Blàr-na-Pairc, 1477, Fought between the Clan MacDonald and Clan MacKenzie.
- Battle o Bloody Bay 1480. The battle wis fought atween John MacDonald o Islay, Earl o Ross, Laird o the Isles an chief o Clan Donald (Eoin Mac Dòmhnuill) against his son Angus Og Macdonald (Aonghas Òg ). John MacDonald o Islay, chief o Clan Donald wis supportit bi men frae the Clan MacLean, Clan MacLeod, an Clan MacNeil. He wis opposed bi his son, Angus Og Macdonald, who wis supportit Allan Macruari, chief o the Clan MacDonald o Clanranald. and Dòmhnall Mac Aonghais (Donald Mac Angus) chief o the Clan MacDonald o Keppoch
- Battle o Skibo an Strathfleet, 1480, John MacDonald o Islay, Earl o Ross invadit Sutherland an fought against men o the Clan Sutherland an Clan Murray.
- Battle of Drumchatt, 1497, In 1495 King James assembled an airmy at Glesga. Then on Mey 18 mony o the Hieland Chiefs made their submissions tae him, includin the Mackenzie and Munro chiefs. Soon after this Alexander MacDonald of Lochalsh and his clan rebelled against the Keeng. He invadit the fertile lands of Ross-shire where he was defeated in battle by the Clan Munro and Clan Mackenzie at a place called Drumchatt where he was driven out of Ross-shire.
The position o Laird o the Isles which the MacDonald chief haed held syne the 13t century haed been revoked in 1495. Housomeivver the MacDonalds remained a pouerful clan an retained muckle o their lands till muckle violence brak oot in the middle o the 16t century.
- Battle o Flodden Field, 1513, Durin the Anglo-Scots Wars the son o Alexander MacDonald o Lochalsh led the Clan MacDonald o Lochalsh against the Inglis airmy. On his return he attemptit tae take control o the govrenment-held Urquhart Castle.
- Battle o the Shirts, 1544, The Clan Macdonald o Clanranald fought against the Clan Fraser at the on the shores o Loch Lochy. Legend haes it that anerlie five Frasers an aicht MacDonalds survived.
- Battle o the Spoiling Dyke, 1578 MacDonalds o Uist an the Clan MacLeod.
- Battle o the Wastren Isles, 1586, Fought on the Isle o Jura, atween the Clan MacDonald o Sleat an the Clan Maclean.
- Battle o Traigh Ghruinneart, 1598, Fought atween the Clan Donald an Clan Maclean on the Isle o Islay.
17t Century an the Ceevil War
- Battle o Coire Na Creiche, 1601, Clan MacDonald o Sleat defeatit the Clan MacLeod on the slopes of the Cuillin hills.
- Battle o Morar, 1602, Fought atween the Clan MacDonell o Glengarry an the Clan Mackenzie.
- In 1642 on Rathlin Island, durin the Erse Rebellion, Covenanter Campbell sodgers o the Argyll's Fuit wur encouraged bi their commandin officer Sir Duncan Campbell o Auchinbreck tae kill the local Catholic MacDonalds, near relatives o the Scots Hielands Clan MacDonald, this they did wi ruthless efficiency throwin scores o MacDonald weemen ower cliffs tae their daiths on rocks belaw. The number o victims o this massacre haes been put as law as 100 an as heich as 3,000.
- The Wars o the Three Kinricks o 1644-47 wis in lairge pairt a clan war atween the MacDonalds an Clan Campbell. the MacDonalds sidit wi the Ryalists in the Inglis Ceevil War an the Erse Confederate Catholics in the Wars o the Three Kinricks. The Campbells sidit wi the Scots Covenanters. A MacDonald clansman, Alasdair Mac Colla raised an Erse force in 1644 an landit in Scotland, wi the aim o linkin up wi the Scots Ryalists an takin back the lands that Clan Donald haed lost tae the Campbells. Efter a year o campaignin aroond Scotland, in which Mac Colla's men ravaged the Campbell lands, the twa sides met at the Battle o Inverlochy (1645). This battle wis atween the Scots Argyll govrenment forces o Clan Campbell led bi Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess o Argyll an the Ryalist forces o the Marquess o Montrose mainly made up o Erse O'Kanes, O'Neills, Ulster Erse Clan MacDonald, Clan MacLean an ither MacDonalds. Through cunnin tactics the Ryalist force o 1500 MacDonalds, Erse an MacLeans defeatit the Argyll Campbell force o 3000.
- In 1645 durin the Ceevil War, Kinlochaline Castle o the Clan MacInnes wis attacked an burned bi MacDonalds servin unner James Graham, 1st Marquess o Montrose.
- Battle o Mulroy, 1668, The Clan MacDonald o Keppoch an Clan Cameron defeat the Clan Mackintosh an Clan Mackenzie
- Massacre o Glencoe, 1692, 38 unairmed MacDonalds frae the Clan MacDonald o Glencoe wur murthered in the Massacre o Glencoe when an initiative tae suppress Jacobitism wis entangled in the lang runnin feud atween Clan MacDonald an Clan Campbell. The slaughter o the host MacDonalds at the haunds o their Campbell guests wis a major affront tae Scots Law an Hieland tradition.
- Durin the Jacobite risins o 1715 the Breetish Govrenment forces, including some units drawn frae Clan Campbell fought against the Jacobite rebels, made up, amangst ithers, o the men o Clan Donald who wur unner MacDonald of Keppoch an the Clan Macdonald o Clanranald whose chief wis killed. Housomeivver there wur in fact some Campbells who teuk the Jacobites' side, led bi the son o Campbell o Glenlyon whose faither haed commandit the govrenment troops at the Massacre o Glencoe 22 years earlier. The twa young men buried the hatchet an swore tae be brithers in airms, fechtin side bi side in the Battle o Sheriffmuir. The Breetish forces defeatit the Jacobites.
- The Clan Donald fought on the side o the Jacobites durin the 1745-1746 uprisins wi three regiments frae Clan Macdonald o Clanranald, Clan MacDonnell o Glengarry, Clan MacDonald o Keppoch an the Clan MacDonald f Glencoe fechtin at the Battle of Prestonpans, Battle o Falkirk (1746) an the Battle o Culloden. A number o MacDonalds wur killed at Culloden although mony o them left the field efter seein the slaughter o ither clans who chairged the govrenment lines afore them.
- The Clan MacDonald o Sleat branch did no take pairt in the Jacobite Uprisins therefore the Sleat possessions remained intact.
- Clan chief: Godfrey James Macdonald o Macdonald, 8t Lord Macdonald, Chief o the Name an Arms o Macdonald, Heich Chief o Clan Donald an 34t hereditary Chief o Clan Donald.
- Chiefly airms: The coat o airms o the current chief is blazoned: Quarterly, 1st, argent, a lion rampant gules, airmed an langued azure; 2nt; Or, a hand in armour fessways holding a cross-crosslet fitchee gules; 3rd, Or, a lymphad sails furled an oars in action sable, Flagged gules; 4t, vert, a salmon naiant in fess proper, ower aw on an escutcheon en surtout, Or, an eagle displayed gules surmuntit o a lymphad sails furled, oars in action sable (as Chief o the Name an Arms o Macdonald). Abuin the shield is placed his lairdship’s coronet, thereon an helmet befittin his degree wi a mantlin gules doubled ermine, an on a crest coronet Or is set for crest a haund in airmour fessways couped at the elbow proper hauldin a cross-crosslet fitchee gules, an in an escrol ower the same this motto 'per mare per terras', an on a compartment o rocks an heather proper issuant frae the waves undy alang wi this motto 'fraoch eilean', are set for supporters twa leopards proper.
- Clan member's crest badge: The crest badge suitable for members o the clan contains the chief's heraldic crest an motto. The crest is: On a crest coronet Or, a haund in airmour fessways couped at the elbow proper hauldin a cross crosslet fitchée gules.
- Clan badge: The clan badge or plant badge attributit tae the clan is common heath. This plant is attributit tae the ither Macdonald clans an some ither associatit clans such as Clan MacIntyre an the Macqueens o Skye.
- Clan Donald - List of Family Names, Branches and Septs
- "History of the House and Clan of MacKay" (1829) by Robert MacKay, p.53 - 54, quoting from the "Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland" by Dir Robert Gordon (1580 to 1656).
- The Battle of Split Allegiances@Clan Cameron.org
- Conflicts of the Clans Battle of Blar-na-Pairc@Electric Scotland
- "The Clan Ranald".
- MacRuarie – McCreary
- ’Conflicts of the Clans’ published in 1764 by the Foulis press, written from a manuscript wrote in the reign of James VI of Scotland. 
- Donald Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland from A.D. 1493 to A.D. 1625.
- Clan MacLeod@Electric Scotland.com
- Roberts, John Leonard (1999). Feuds, Forays and Rebellions: History of the Highland Clans, 1475-1625. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 140–1. ISBN 9780748662449.
- Royle, Trevor (2004). Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660. London: Abacus. ISBN 0-349-11564-8. p.143
- The Carolingian Era, macdonnellofleinster.org. Retrieved 28 August 2008